Since the time my kids were small, vacation souvenirs and kitsch were something that they really enjoyed collecting. Unfortunately, after a while those $5 souvenirs had a sneaky way of adding up to a few hundred dollars of junk, per child.
For families on a budget, there are some easy and cheap ways that kids can collect souvenirs without draining your wallet. Here are just a few of the low cost ways that our family solved the problem:
Buy each child a disposable camera: Cheap disposable cameras can usually be found on sale during the summer months for about $4-5 each. Buy each of the kids a couple of cameras and let them take their own photographs for a souvenir they’ll enjoy for years to come. Dollar store photo albums and scrapbook stickers are a low cost way to organize those vacation photographs so they won’t be damaged.
For added fun, my kids would add a gimmick to their vacation photographs. One of my children once arranged a favorite He-Man action figure in front of popular tourist attractions, while another one would include his brother in each picture wearing a furry Russian naval hat. On a recent trip to San Antonio, my teenaged daughter even brought along a sign supporting her school basketball team.
Collect postcards: Post cards are still bargain priced at about 25 cents each in most shops. What we did on our last vacation was to give our kids $10 and two books of postcard stamps at the beginning of the trip, and encouraged them to write postcards to themselves about the things they had seen. Once we got home, the cards were waiting for us along with a witty travel log of the various things the kids had done while on vacation.
Collect rocks: One year our family was just too tight on cash to spend any type of money on souvenirs. As a free alternative, I had the kids collect colorful ocean pebbles from the different beaches we had visited. The pebbles were kept in Ziplocs and labeled with the location where they were found.
To display the pebbles, we placed them in mason jars and covered them with tap water to bring out the color of the rocks. My mother in law, however, came up with about the most creative idea I had ever seen for displaying sea pebbles. She created a colorful underwater landscape by gluing the tiny pebbles she had collected ~ mosaic style ~ to a piece of plywood.
Start a scrapbook: Most of the attractions and sites that families see on vacation often result in bits of ephemera in the way of ticket stubs, visitors guides complete with color photographs, and other scraps of paper. As a kid, I used to bring along a craft box on vacation filled with the things I needed to make a travel journal filled with sketches, ephemera, and little stories about the things I’d seen.
Starting a vacation scrapbook doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A cheap binder, note book paper, glue sticks, color pencils, and writing pencils are all your child will need to create an unforgettable vacation memory book.